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Health | Opinion
Mark Trahant: Becoming an early adopter for health care reform


"If the United States government were a corporation, then the health insurance reform debate would have completely moved into its implementation phase. Essentially, the management and the board would have figured out the course of action, and then figured a way to execute that plan.

If that sounds easy, it’s not.

In the corporate world there’s a lot of thought given about how to take an idea and then make it so. Everett Rogers and his 1962 classic book, The Diffusion of Innovations, shows how “innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among members of a social system.” When you have a good idea (or a bad one) the execution runs up against deeply ingrained obstacles. So really smart people spend a lot of time on the implementation of ideas.

In my newspaper career I worked at large newspapers and small ones. In small ones we could execute lots of approaches, even trying ideas that flopped badly. (The great thing about a small newspaper is if an idea doesn’t work, try, try again.) But at large newspapers, well, change of any kind was difficult, slow and you had to sell the idea over and over.

Rogers demonstrated this problem in graphic form. He divided people in an organization into five groups: Innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards.

So you convince innovators and early adopters until you build enough of a success story in order to convince the next group. Of course, some people will never be convinced and that has to be a part of the planning, too."

Get the Story:
A call to action: Be the health care reform early adopters (Mark Trahant 7/12)

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